Update: Giveaway extended to 2 April 2014, 2359hrs
I count myself one of the lucky people in this constantly changing country. I had a mother who was a relentless hoarder of things. She kept everything.
I discovered a tonne of things she kept that I thought she would’ve thrown away. After all, she did throw away my ACSOBA (ACS Old Boys’ Association) rugby jersey that had been retired and given to me when I played a game back in the late 80s. That the school and its Old Boys’ Association retired their jerseys only once every five years did not move her. She had disapproved of my playing rugby, even after I had left school, because rugby boys were a bad bunch.
When she passed away three years ago, my sister went through her belongings and passed me a box of things which turned out to be a treasure trove. In the box was a plastic folder she had neatly kept her own “Leaving School Certificate” from ACS Seremban (Malaya) in 1955, her driving licence from Melbourne, her first pay slip from the same city, and a rejection letter from the PUB in Singapore in 1965 when she applied for a job upon settling in the newly independent republic of our country.
That same year, my mother and father had returned to the newly federated union of Malaysia and Singapore by ship from Melbourne, planning to marry in Malaysia and settle in the city of Singapore to live and work. It seems it wasn’t long after they disembarked at Clifford Pier that that whole episode known as The Separation happened.
She made an amazing effort to keep my stuff too. There are about 10 copies of my birth certificate, my citizenship certificate (I had not been a citizen at birth even though I was born in Singapore – constitutional lawyers would know why), my first IC, passport photos through the years, Army mugshots, old bankbooks, cleared and returned cheques and dozens of other paraphernalia worthy of a museum display.
I am forever grateful that she kept these things in such great condition, given that everything else in our country seems to be getting erased and built over so relentlessly and rapidly. I can hardly remember what Marina Bay looked like when it was a real bay.
Where I lived from birth till I was about 6 is also almost a mere memory. I remember my first address: 412 Pasir Panjang Road, Singapore 5. Yes, a single digit postcode.
Across the road there used to be a police station (not an NPP), where policemen in their shorts used to be summoned across by my mother to scare the crap out of me when I misbehaved. Behind the police station was the beach, and a jetty where fishing boats docked, unloading their catch to be sold at the fishmonger’s (Ah Heng’s) on the corner of Pasir Panjang and Clementi Roads.
I must be one of the lucky, lucky few who can still find his house of birth after 45 years. The original stones that make up the gate’s pillars are still there in its 70s kitschy glory. I drove past it last year and reminded myself to go and take a picture of the gate. Or maybe chip off a piece for keepsake. After all, the police station is no longer across the road.
From this magical box my mother left with me, there are four items I want to share with you:
And not from the box my mother left me, this is a picture of the gate’s pillars at 412 Pasir Panjang Road:
I played within these gates, on the driveway, on my toy cars and bicycles. I hope my son will remember his playgrounds and other places he spends with his Mama and Papa the same way I try to remember mine. It is important to have that sense of belonging and continuity.
I strongly urge everyone to take stock of the things around you, record them and the stories attached to them, for posterity, and for the prosperity of our collective memories.
As part of the Singapore Memory Project’s “10 for Keeps” campaign, a fabulous memory kit worth over $100 will be given away to 2 of you, and it comes complete with an Instax camera, a guide book on how to record your favourite memories, two packs of film and a pamphlet to submit some of the photos to SMP.
Some of your photos may be selected for a Memory Showcase exhibition at the lobby of the National Library Building from 11 Apr – 26 May. Come and check out if yours have been chosen.
Before you leave this page, leave a comment below to share what items you cherish the most, and the memory that comes with it by 31 March 2014. Best two entries (I choose) will win this Memory Kit.